Black and white Art Illustration of outdoor faucet

How To Repair A Leaky Outdoor Faucet

By | Plumbing

Outdoor Faucet Leaking?

Knowing how to repair a leaky outdoor faucet is one of those tasks that can be extremely helpful for the average homeowner. In many cases — not all, mind you, but many — the fix is as easy as checking and tightening a nut. Sometimes, however, the diagnosis is not so easily obtained and the fix isn’t so easy to come by — at least not for those who don’t work as a plumber full time.

In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the basics of checking for and repairing a leaky outdoor water faucet (also known as a hose bib or hose bibbs). If you’ve had an outdoor faucet that’s been leaking for a while, then fixing the problem should do wonders for your water bill — not to mention the environment.

Please keep in mind that this piece provides just an overview of how to diagnose and repair a leaky faucet. As we alluded to in that first paragraph up there, there may be more than meets the eye when it comes to fixing a leaky outdoor faucet. If that’s the case, then you’re always going to be in good shape if you contact Simpson Plumbing. We’re happy to help diagnose the problem and propose solutions that will solve the problem — whatever it may be.

But if the fix is easy — and we’re hoping it is! — then here are the steps for how to repair a leaky outdoor faucet.

How To Repair A Leaky Outdoor Faucet

First off, you’ll probably need a pair of pliers or a sturdy adjustable wrench to perform the fix outlined here. Outdoor faucets can begin to drip over time because the packing nut has come loose. If that’s the case, then you’ll almost certainly notice that water is leaking from the handle. To stop an outdoor faucet from leaking, take your pliers or adjustable wrench and tighten the packing nut that’s located just below the faucet handle. Remember to turn it in a clockwise direction about halfway — righty-tighty, lefty-loosey!

If the faucet is still leaking after you’ve tightened it, then it’s probably because the rubber washer has worn away. This process is a little more involved and requires you to not only buy a replacement washer but to also shut off the water supply going to the faucet. Then you’ll need to unscrew that packing nut (lefty-loosey!) and pull the handle and valve stem out from the faucet. (The valve stem is sometimes surprisingly long FYI!)

Time to Call Simpson?

(Note: If you’re reading this and already thinking this might be a good time to call a plumber, then it’s probably a good time to call a plumber. Call Simpson Plumbing right away! We’re here to help.)

Still here? Ready to carry on? OK, now that the water flow has been stopped, you’ll want to remove the screw on the end of that stem; this screw holds the washer in place. Go ahead and replace the old washer with the new one. Then tighten that screw, re-insert the stem into the faucet housing, and re-tighten the packing nut. Finally, turn the water on again, and check for leaks or drips.

If that fix doesn’t solve the problem, then it’s possible that the valve will have to be replaced. In this case, we’re just gonna go ahead and say it’s definitely absolutely time to call Simpson Plumbing.

Simpson: Your Vancouver Plumber

Since 1981, Simpson Plumbing has been delivering quality plumbing services in and around Vancouver, Camas, and the rest of Southwest Washington. Our philosophy is simple: Give our customers the results they demand at a fair and ethical price.

Simpson is family-owned and operated — just as it has been since Day 1. In fact, a third generation of family members has joined our expert plumbing workforce. We’re more than ready to continue providing exceptional plumbing services and A+ customer service to our Vancouver neighbors.

Be sure to check out our special offers. (They’re updated frequently!)

Full-Service Plumbing

Simpson offers full-service commercial and residential plumbing. No matter the problem, we’re equipped to diagnose and fix it — everything from leaky faucets (both inside and out!), water heater repair, garbage disposal repair, pipe maintenance, and more!

We also provide installation services, including water heaters, sump pumps, and tubs and showers. Last but certainly not least: We can help you with kitchen remodels, bathroom remodels, or full-scale plumbing projects on new homes.

Call us today! We look forward to speaking with you.

Toilet Running? Here’s How To Repair It

By | Plumbing

Tips to Fix a Running Toilet

A toilet and tub in a modern bathroom.Is your toilet running? (No, this is not a joke.) Running toilets are one of the most common reasons people call a plumber in Vancouver and Portland. With just a little bit of know-how, homeowners and property owners can usually handle this problem on their own.

First things first: If you have little to no plumbing experience beyond knowing how to use a plunger, it would be best to contact Simpson Plumbing. We’re providing this DIY blog post as an FYI for those who know at least a little bit about plumbing systems.

Doing plumbing work yourself — even the most basic of basics — without proper training and guidance can lead to big-time damage and more expensive problems. If you’re unfamiliar with or have no experience working on plumbing problems, a DIY blog post — even if it’s super awesome like this one! — should not be considered proper training and guidance.

OK, now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way …

What Problems Are Caused By A Toilet That Won’t Stop Running?

A toilet that won’t stop running is more than just a mild nuisance. It can cause a whole host of problems — including risks of flooding and water damage. If your home has a septic system, a running toilet can flood the tank — with results that can be, well, messy.

What else might happen if your toilet won’t stop running? A continuously running toilet wastes water, leading to higher water bills and a strain on our already strained environment. It also makes it more likely that there isn’t enough water in the bowl at any one time to flush properly, which can lead to clogged pipes.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

Here’s a quick checklist that should help you diagnose the problem of a running toilet. Before beginning any work, shut off the water to the toilet and drain the toilet bowl with a flush. In order to understand what follows, you might want to take a look at a basic diagram of a toilet tank assembly.

  1. Open the tank and inspect the chain.

    Sometimes the fix is super simple: The chain that holds the flapper (also known as the flush valve seal) has become caught under the flapper itself at the bottom of the tank. Jiggle the chain to free it up. Other times, the chain has a kink, meaning it’s not long enough to allow the flapper to properly seal the drain hole. Try unkinking the chain if that appears to be the problem.

  2. Replace the flapper.

    As mentioned above, the flapper (flush valve seal) is probably familiar to most people who have lifted the heavy ceramic lid off their toilet tank in order to “jiggle the chain.” It is supposed to plug up the drain hole (the flush valve drain seat; see No. 2 below) on the tank bottom. Over time, it can wear out, leading to a break in the seal. You can take the flapper to your hardware store and ask for a matching part that you can use to replace the old, malfunctioning one.

  3. Inspect the flush valve seat.

    This part of the toilet’s plumbing can also become flawed. Unfortunately, replacing this part is a bigger job — one that involves swapping out the entire flapper valve. This is one of those plumbing jobs that’s usually beyond the skills of your average everyday plumbing homeowner. Contact Simpson Plumbing for help.

  4. Adjust the float.

    The float is that big ball that sits on the opposite end of the arm attached to the fill valve. You can turn the screw that holds the float arm to the fill valve (a quarter turn at a time) to adjust the height of the float. This usually solves the problem of a running toilet. (If it’s caused by the water level or the ball sitting too high.)

  5. Replace the fill valve.

    This is another job that involves an expert — not just for replacing the assembly but for diagnosing the problem in the first place. Call Simpson with any questions!

Simpson Plumbing in Vancouver and Portland

Those are the basic troubleshooting maneuvers when you flush the toilet and it starts constantly running. As we stressed before, it’s usually better to get an expert opinion on these matters. This is especially important if you have little to no experience diagnosing and troubleshooting plumbing problems.

Simpson Plumbing can help! For almost 40 years, Simpson Plumbing has provided quality, affordable plumbing services for Vancouver and Portland residents. Based in Camas, Washington, we work hard to deliver results that lead to complete customer satisfaction. We don’t want to just fix a single plumbing problem (although we’re happy to do that!); we want to make you a Simpson Plumbing customer for life.

Contact us today with any questions.

Get Your Home Plumbing Ready for Summer

By | Blog

plumbing ready for summerSummer in the Pacific Northwest is one of the loveliest times of the year. The days are longer and warmer, people are outside grilling, and your plumbing is working hard to water your lawn and keep the sprinkler going for the kids to run through. If you’re looking to get your home plumbing ready for summer months, make sure that your internal piping system is in great condition to take on the extra water use. No one wants a major plumbing problem to ruin a nice summer day. Here are some helpful tips to avoid plumbing issues this summer.

Tip #1: Check your water heater

You may not be taking long hot baths during the summer like you would during the winter, but your water heater will still be put to good use over the summer months, so it’s important to inspect it closely. Look at your water heater in detail and check for signs of rust, leakage, or corrosion. Check underneath the water heater with a flashlight and be sure it’s not wet on the underneath side. Typical water heaters last between 8 and 12 years, so if yours is that old, consider getting it looked at by a professional for replacement.  

Tip #2: Avoid clogs

Clogged drains or clogged pipes are never fun. If you have a slow drain or weak flush issues during the warm weather months, be sure to have the tools handy that you need. For bathroom sinks and tubs, hair clogs usually happen just inside the drain or further down the line. Keep on top of these by cleaning your drain out as often as possible. If you are finding that drains are not clearing and that they are becoming clogged more and more, consider calling a professional to get things taken care of before something more serious occurs.

Tip #3 Learn to conserve water

Learning how to conserve water is not only great on your wallet, but it will also help save the planet. For example, a leaky faucet could waste thousands of gallons of water in a year’s time and you could also literally be flushing money down the drain that way. During the summer months, you’ll likely need to keep your garden and plants watered so they don’t die in the heat, but when you do water them, use only what you need. For example, don’t leave the sprinkler running for long periods of time, but instead used a timed sprinkler system or do the watering by hand.

Plumbing services in Vancouver WA

Is your plumbing ready for summer months? Contact our team of plumbing professionals today for help!

Finding a shower leak

Finding a shower leak that’s causing water damage

By | Blog

Taking care of your home requires a diverse set of skills – sometimes you’re a finance manager, other times a procurement officer, maintenance engineer, or interior designer. You may also take on the roles of electrician, landscaper, painter and plumber. What you really are is a problem solver. When it comes to plumbing issues – from toilets that won’t stop running to the leak near the shower – your sleuthing skills need to be top-notch, because leaks are sneaky and if left unchecked, can cause significant damage to your home. Here are a few tips for finding a shower leak that’s causing water damage.

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How Does Water Leak Technology Work?

By | Blog

As humans, we’ve been trying to manage water systems for a long time. Even the Romans, builders of one of the early water supply systems, worried about losing water through leaks, as noted by their Water Commissioner. At the time, and for centuries afterward, visual inspection was the only way to identify leaks from plumbing or water systems. Looking for drips and puddles is still a primary form of water leak detection, but not all leaks are obvious.

Technological advancements now provide us with more options to find hidden leaks. Here’s more information about types of water leak detection and how the technology works.

Acoustic Water Leak Detection

Water makes sounds as it escapes from pipes. It may hiss, whoosh, drip, splash or thump. Acoustic water leak detection technology relies on listening devices and microphones to locate leaks. The system’s listening device picks up sound waves and transfers them to a microphone. Experienced operators determine the location and size of the leak based on the loudness and tone of the sounds.

Higher frequency sounds indicate smaller leaks; lower sounds suggest larger leaks. In some acoustic water leak detection systems, the sensor is placed directly into the water system for an extended time, collecting information about leaks as it travels.

Thermal Imaging Water Leak Detection

A thermal imaging water leak detection system uses an infrared thermography (IT) camera. These hand-held cameras produce images of heat radiation across the color spectrum, with hotter areas showing up as red and cooler areas appearing as purple or blue.  Since water typically has a lower temperature than air, a leak can be recognized as a darker color on the infrared image.

Fiber Optic Camera Water Leak Detection

Fiber optic cameras can provide precise information about water leaks. A miniaturized camera mounted on a long fiber optic cable is placed into the water system through a drain. The camera sends images back to a monitor, showing the location of leaks and the condition of pipes.  

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Water Leak Detection

This water leak detection technology relies on electromagnetic waves bouncing off material below the surface to create two-dimensional reflections of a water system. GPR reflections will be distorted if a leak is present. GPR systems can also create three-dimensional maps to show not only the presence of a leak, but also the direction water is moving, helping to target repairs.

Hydrostatic Water Leak Detection

With this technology, a ball is inserted into a main sewer pipe and inflated to block the pipe. Water is then run into the system and pressure is measured over a time. A pressure drop indicates a leak in the system. Since it only measures the presence of a leak, hydrostatic water leak detection is typically part of a multi-step evaluation. Fiber optic cameras may be used after hydrostatic water testing to more fully understand the location and type of leak.

Water leak detection Vancouver, WA

We’ve come a long way in understanding how to locate and assess water leaks that are not easily visible. For help with water leak detection in the Vancouver area, contact Simpson Plumbing. We’ll put our technology and expertise to work for you to find the leak – and we’ll provide the plumbing repairs you need to get your water system back to peak performance.

Common laundry room plumbing problems

Laundry room plumbing tips to avoid leaks and clogs

By | Blog

When it comes to avoiding issues with your laundry room plumbing, there are some simple ways to prevent small headaches from becoming major issues that will cost you time and money to fix. In many cases, issues with laundry room plumbing can be prevented through simple maintenance and introducing a few new steps to your cleaning routine. While this might seem like a hassle at first, keeping your laundry room in tip-top shape will save you from expensive repairs in the long run. Here are some simple tips to help you preserve the plumbing in your laundry room.

Laundry room plumbing tips

Checking the integrity of your laundry machine hoses is crucial to preventing leaks and clogs. If your laundry room has rubber hoses installed, consider swapping them out for metal ones instead. Older homes and apartments are more likely to have rubber hose hookups for washing machines. These are specially made to avoid clogging, and are less prone to breakage and cracking than rubber hoses. It is also important to make sure your hoses are connected properly to your machines and drainage areas, as loose or broken seals can lead to flooding and costly water damage. The same check can be done for under sinks and even toilets if they share the same room as your laundry machines.

Another simple installation to help preserve the plumbing in your laundry room is a flood sensor. While it can be important to find smaller leaks in your laundry room plumbing before they become problematic, in the case of a large flooding event, a flood sensor can save you from intense water damage. From a backed-up drain, to an overflowing sink, or even a clogged toilet, a flooding sensor can let you know there is a problem before it spirals out of control, keeping your laundry room safer from expensive damage than ever before.

Making sure to clean out your drains and clog catches on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is also key to preventing overflow. Particularly important for a highly used washer that is being run multiple times of every day of the week, preventing clogs is key to the health of your laundry room plumbing. A quick check of hair catches in bathtubs and sinks, as well as checking the catch on your washing machine, can save you hours of plumbing trouble. Also, updating your appliances to modern, water-efficient models can help prevent clogs and save you money on both water use and plumbing problems.

Vancouver, WA plumbing services

Finally, getting a regular plumbing inspection can help you detect issues you couldn’t find on your own, such as internal plumbing issues and aged plumbing. If you are interested in scheduling a plumbing inspection, or have any questions about how to keep your laundry room operating cleanly, contact Simpson Plumbing. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, and can offer professional repairs and consultations on installations and plumbing repairs.

Camas & Vancouver WA Sewer Repair and Cleaning

By | Blog

Portland sewer repair is often necessary when pipes are broken or leakingSewer repair and cleaning may not the prettiest topic to talk about, but it’s essential to know why you should have your sewer cleaned regularly, and who you can turn to when your sewer line needs to be repaired. A clean and functioning sewer line is a sewer line you don’t have to think about, and isn’t that we all really want?

Sewer Cleaning

Having your sewer line cleaned by a professional on a semi-regular basis, is an ideal way to spot and take care of little issues that could become major problems in the future if left untreated. If you haven’t noticed any pressing problems, you should have your sewer lines cleaned about every 18-22 months as a preventative measure. In between these “check ups” if you’re having trouble, call your plumber who can do a proper video inspection to asses the situation and diagnose your sewer line problem.

Sewer Repair

If your sewer line needs to be repaired, you may not notice right away. Here are some things to look for that may indicate your sewer line isn’t functioning properly and may require sewer repair in Camas, Vancouver, or surrounding areas in Southwest Washington:

  • Smell: This, unfortunately, is a pretty good indicator that things have gone wrong somewhere. A strong sewage stench is a sign that a pipe has broken along the line and needs immediate attention.
  • Gurgling in your pipes: When you flush the toilet or run your sink and a rumbly, gurgling noise emits from your pipes, you may potentially have a sewer line blockage.
  • Standing water: Seeing standing water around the sewer pipe and drain in your basement is often a sign of a busted sewer line. If there are puddles in your basement, it’s time to call a plumber.
  • Slowed draining: If your sink, shower, and tub drains are draining slower than usual, or the water is draining but comes back up, you potentially have a blocked sewer line.

Vancouver WA Area Sewer Repair and Cleaning

A broken sewer line is not something any homeowner ever wants to have to deal with, but being able to call a professional, qualified, plumber makes the situation much more manageable and less stressful. If you’ve noticed some of these signs around your Camas, Washougal, or Vancouver, WA area home lately, and think you need sewer repair services, give our team a call to get it fixed quickly and correctly.

Standard Water Heater repair

Water heater repair: Common problems and fixes

By | Blog, Plumbing

We all take electric water heaters for granted until they no longer work. The life expectancy of a water heater can vary depending upon the quality of the unit, how often it’s used and the amount of minerals in your water. If you are experiencing no hot water, too much hot water, strange odors or rumbling noises, there are a few things you can troubleshoot to determine the source of the problem. Remember, if you can’t locate the problem or don’t feel comfortable making repairs, you can always consider find a plumber to complete a water heater repair in Vancouver, WA.

No Hot Water

If your electric water heater has been functioning properly for quite some time but you suddenly find yourself without hot water, there could some repair issues. A heating element may have gone out, or there could be a problem with the electric thermostat. It is also possible that you may have blown a fuse or tripped the circuit breaker. Replacing a fuse isn’t that difficult, and you can easily check to see if the circuit breaker is tripped. However, if the thermostat or heating element needs to be replaced, you might need to call for water heater repair in Vancouver.

Too Much Hot Water

Too much hot water can present a real danger to anyone living in a home. The first thing you’ll want to check is the thermostat on the unit. Make a note of the current setting and reduce the setting to a lower temperature. If the water temperature coming out of the faucet improves, you’re all set. However, if you hear the sound of boiling water in the water heater or see steam coming from the faucet, you may have a faulty pressure relief valve that will need to be replaced.

Strange Odors

Cold water can sometimes develop a strange odor due to minerals in the water like copper or iron. Installing a water filtration system could resolve the problem. However, if you determine there is a rotten egg smell coming from the hot water, you may need to flush the water tank or have the anode rod checked.

Rumbling Noises

Hard water accumulations, minerals and contracting metal can cause noises in your water heater. It may be time to have your Vancouver hot water heater flushed by a professional.

A Shortage of Hot Water

The most common reason for a shortage of hot water in a home is because of lifestyle changes or an increase in the demand for hot water. For example, if one or more kids have moved in or you’ve rented out a room, your demand for hot water has just seriously increased. It’s possible you simply need a larger unit with more capacity.

If these situations don’t apply, you may need to increase the temperature setting on the thermostat if cooler weather is affecting the water heaters ability to maintain temperature. You may also need to flush the water tank if you live in an area with high amounts of mineral deposits.

Need a Vancouver Plumber for Water Heater Repair?

Replacing and troubleshooting electric hot water heaters can be a big job. If you need professional help from an experienced plumber in Vancouver, WA, contact Simpson Plumbing today.

Plumbing setup with Simpson Plumbing, including sewer repair for the home.

Sewer repair: When should I call a plumber?

By | Plumbing

Most people can handle the occasional clogged toilet or shower drain themselves. It’s great if you’re handy with tools and can replace a clogged sink aerator or a faucet washer to stop leaks. Making small do-it-yourself repairs is tempting to save money when it comes to sewer repair. However, when you get in over your head and don’t really know what you’re doing, you could cause more costly damage.

Often times, it is cheaper and quicker to let a professional plumber evaluate the situation and make the sewer repairs than trying to make them yourself. Water pipe damage, low water pressure, hot water problems and new construction projects related to plumbing are just a few examples that may require Vancouver sewer repair by a qualified plumber.

Blocked or Frozen Pipes

Blocked pipes can occur when sediment and minerals build up in pipes, tree roots grow into pipes, or when items that are not meant for sewer system disposal are flushed down the toilet. Regardless of the situation, most homeowners don’t have the knowledge or the equipment to make these kinds of repairs correctly.

Burst or frozen pipes are typically caused by water freezing during the wintertime, in the pipes somewhere in the home or in the home’s foundation. Just to locate the source of the damage can be challenging, and it’s best left to a professional to make repairs to prevent additional damage to the foundation, drywall and flooring.

Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure in one or two faucets is often just a matter of a little routine maintenance like cleaning the faucet heads. However, if low water pressure is occurring throughout the home, this could be a serious sign that you need to investigate further. It’s possible there could be a problem with your well system if you live in a rural area. Water supplied by city services could be another issue. Serious breaches or leaks in your home’s piping could also cause a reduction in water pressure and damage the foundation or infrastructure of the home.

Hot Water Problems

Undoubtedly, most people’s first reaction when they have no hot water is to assume that there must be a reset button they can adjust to get the hot water back on. However, hot water heaters can be a little bit more complicated than that. Hot water heaters can be affected by sediment buildup in the water, which means the unit may need flushing periodically. They could also malfunction due to a bad thermostat, blown fuse, circuit breaker problems or a bad heating element. Hiring a Vancouver sewer repair company may be a cheaper alternative than diagnosing the unit yourself.

New Construction

On the surface, installing a new dishwasher, adding a bathroom or installing a hot tub may seem like easy projects for the do-it-yourselfer. However, if you don’t have the expertise, tools, equipment and permits, you could damage existing plumbing or fail to meet necessary safety building codes.

If you’re looking for help with sewer repair in Vancouver, WA, contact Simpson Plumbing for professional services to get the job done right.

Older homes in Vancouver, WA: What are common plumbing problems in historic homes?

By | Blog

Plumbers hands using a wrench and pliers to loosen a pipe. Many of Vancouver’s neighborhoods were built at the turn of the 20th century, and the plumbing systems present unique challenges to homeowners. Old pipes and plumbing fixtures can create major headaches as outdated pipes are comprised of materials long abandoned by modern home builders. Older neighborhoods, such as Officer’s Row, Carter Park and much of west Vancouver often have been dealing with their home plumbing systems for years.

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